HAMPSHIRE’S civic leader has suggested that council-run services could be saved from cuts if residents are willing to pay a fee to use them.
This could mean that people could pay £1 to use services, such as tips, which would save them from being axed, Councillor Roy Perry said.
Speaking at the authority’s cabinet meeting, Cllr Perry added that while nothing had been officially tabled, it would help the council keep services that budget cuts may spell the end of.
He said: ‘One proposal would be to ask the public if they would consider paying a little fee to retain a service, rather than losing the service forever? For example Household Waste Recycling Centres (tips).
‘Clearly we want to go with what the residents say on this, but that could enable the opportunity to pay a small amount – let’s say £1 – to keep a service going.
‘It is something we are lobbying the government about at the moment.’
Cllr Perry added that a change in national policy would be needed to bring in the charge.
Hampshire County Council runs tips in Gosport, Fareham, Hedge End, Segensworth, Bishop’s Waltham, Havant, Waterlooville and Hayling Island.
The plans are similar to those discussed in November last year, when the authority proposed to bring in a £1 charge for using tips, as it looked to tighten its purse strings.
However, following county-wide backlash, the idea was scrapped, and the tips remained open – despite some having their opening hours reduced.
It comes as the council looks to save £80m by 2021, after already announcing it would need to find an anticipated budget shortfall of £140 million by April 2019.
The authority says a lot of these savings have already been found, with just an £80m funding gap left to fill.
Among the services hit by cuts to save cash were social care, school crossing patrols, subsidised bus services, and community transport.
Cllr Perry previously said the authority faced an ‘increasingly difficult balancing act’ to reduce its spending.
Civic chiefs added they would need to consider future costs to meet the shortfall, which had come from ‘continuing demographic pressures, inflation, and government grant reductions’.